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  • Writer's pictureRon Dickson

Developing Chord Content for Lessons

It’s a long journey from the first few fumbling attempts at chords to fluently and confidently reading a chord chart and playing a song after a few minutes of reviewing the chord changes. To alter a quote from Bruce Lee (underrated for his teaching ability) - Before I learned the art, a Chord was just a Chord. After I learned the art, a Chord was no longer a Chord. Now that I understand the art, a Chord is just a Chord.

When we start to play chords, the learning is about getting the fingers moving to the shape of a chord name. There can be a little discussion about which fingers should go where. The general understanding is that each chord has only one chord shape.

This chord knowledge has to be expanded to include other versions of the same chord and how we modify each chord to suit the different quality of the chord. The trick here is to ensure the learning method is not the same. Once the primary forms are in place, we must apply this knowledge to the new chords we are learning. If we learn by the same method, the understanding part of learning chords is delayed, slowly progressing through the “Chord is no longer a Chord.” stage.

Once these relationships between the chords are understood, that knowledge is applied next. So here we are now building up our chord shapes and looking at chord progressions to create the most straightforward path for our fingers or using alternate voicings to create movement within the music.

The lessons for this progress must consider each individual and when they reach that “A-ha” moment. Some struggle with changing from chords being a fixed item to chords being a collection of notes they choose on the guitar. Some find this concept simple and change over their thinking easily.

The Chord Content still has to progress no matter the student's path, ensuring everyone progresses.


It’s a long journey from the first few fumbling attempts at chords to fluently and confidently reading a chord chart and playing a song after a few minutes of reviewing the chord changes. Developing the lesson content to ensure students meet this goal has to be flexible

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